We are always looking to incorporate student interests into the classroom. Sometimes, this can be tough, and other times, it comes so naturally and easy. Enter, 3D Printed Fidget Spinners. Some educators may call them an annoyance and a distraction; I see an opportunity for learning. Mainly because these simple toys, that are composed of just a couple bearings and plastic, are easily recreated in free programs such as TinkerCAD and printed for under one dollar.
Before starting this project with my students, I made sure I had the support of my administration as some schools started to ban them in their school. While I disagree with that action, I wanted to respect their decision. After approval, I informed my students of our upcoming project. My students were thrilled with the idea and were excited to begin designing their 3D Printed Fidget Spinners.
After searching all over Amazon for bearings, I found a couple cheaper options. It’s important to note that these prices are constantly changing and stock is always in and out. Also, if you can plan a couple months ahead of time, you find options to buy in higher bulk (100) for much cheaper. Unfortunately for me, this was a teachable-moment-type lesson and I need them as soon as possible. (I have listed the links below)
After purchasing over 200 bearings, I realized that this still wasn’t enough for all my students to have one (I teach over 125 students). I needed a solution to use less bearings. After scouring the internet and looking at fidget spinners, I came to the solution of replacing the outer bearings with hex nut bolts. This would allow students to create their very own 3D Printed Fidget Spinner and only use one bearing per design.
Here is what you need:
TinkerCAD Skills Taught During the Lesson
Creating & Manipulating Basic Shape Objects
Typing in Exact Measurements on Shapes
Grouping Objects Together
Aligning Objects to Ensure Balance & Symmetry
Duplicating Objects to Create Symmetry
Importing SVG Files to Manipulate
Math/STEM Concepts Taught
Design Thinking Process
These guides I have created can be printed out and handed to the students to help them follow along.
Most importantly, print with at least 30% Infill as it will make the Spinner stronger and more durable.
Make sure your bearing fits snuggly. I have found that printers may scale objects slightly different, so it is important to print out a test (usually just the bearing fitting) to test to make sure the hole isn’t too big or too small.
You should not be able to just “pop” in your bearing. I prefer having to use a rubber mallet to lightly tap it in. This ensures that it will not fall out.
Bearings come greased from the warehouse. This will aid the longevity of the bearing as it normally deals with a heavy workload, but will hinder the spin time. To increase spin time, pop off the top of each side of the bearing and soak it in Rubbing Alcohol. Then, dry with a hairdryer to avoid rust.
Finally, use sites like Noun Project to come up with interesting unique fidget spinner designs by using the Duplicate option on TinkerCAD. If selling the spinners, make sure to pay for the rights to the image being used and give credit to the original artist.
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